The Orioles got their Spring Training slate underway on Tuesday, when they played a highly informal exhibition game against Team Italy that wasn’t even marked on the schedule. Baltimore had originally planned to play an intrasquad game but reconsidered at the request of Italian manager Marco Mazzieri, who is a friend of Orioles manager Dave Trembley.
Trembley let that friendship dictate his roster decisions, and he played a combination of lightly tested big-leaguers and highly touted prospects. Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman both pitched scoreless innings for the Orioles, and Matt Wieters started behind the plate.
Utilityman Donnie Murphy drove in the first run with a double, and Craig Brazell later made it a three-run game with a bloop single to center field. Baltimore will get its exhibition season started in earnest on Wednesday with a game against the Mets at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.
If you had any reservations about the Grapefruit League season starting today, they’ve been effectively overruled. Baltimore manager Dave Trembley has been holding court with several of his players for the last few hours, introducing himself to some in person and chiding others about their non-compliance with the team’s facial hair policy.
In some ways, it seems like Spring Training has been here forever. Koji Uehara is already being shadowed by a sizable Japanese press corps as he goes about his daily routine. Matt Wieters has already been interviewed by the local press corps. And Gregg Zaun and Mark Hendrickson have been making the rounds, introducing themselves to their new teammates.
Several of the team’s pitchers are already in camp, even though they’re not required to be at the facility until tomorrow. And two position players — Ryan Freel and Donnie Murphy — are in camp well ahead of their mandatory reporting date. Freel, in fact, came up with the spring’s first deadpan quip when asked if he always shows up to camp a week early.
“No,” he said. “I usually show up a month early.”